In the garden
Proper mowing techniques
Now that lawns are greening up, it’s time to consider best practices for mowing your grass.
“How you mow is important,” advises Henrico Extension Agent Karen Carter. “One of the best ways to prevent weeds in your lawn is to mow correctly.”
Start by checking the blade on your mower. It needs to be sharp so that you don’t chew off or shred your grass, which makes it vulnerable to disease and attacks by insects.
The blade needs to be set high enough to leave grass at least 3 inches high. “This is probably the most important thing,” said Carter. “Mowing high improves root growth and helps shade out weed seedlings. You’ll still have some weeds, but the number will be greatly reduced.”
Carter advised following the one-third rule: never remove more than 1/3 of the height of your grass at one time.
Mow regularly, though not when grass is wet, and rotate mowing patterns. And leave the grass clippings on the lawn. As long as they’re not in clumps, grass clippings will decompose and return valuable nutrients and water to the soil. “Lawn clippings are ‘free fertilizer,” Carter said, “and they don’t contribute to thatch buildup.”
Tall fescue grasses, used most often in this area, don’t develop thatch layers.
Tall fescue is a cool season grass that looks good in the spring, early summer, and fall, but it can go dormant in the heat of the summer unless it is watered.
“Lawn irrigation is an all or nothing proposition,” said Carter.
Lawns that aren’t watered can survive as long as they have a strong root system. To keep grass green in summer’s heat, an inch of water is needed every week.
“That means a good, deep soaking that builds the root system,” said Carter. “Not just 15 minutes.”
“The roots are the root of the matter,” she added. “Healthy lawns have strong root systems.”
Applying a broadleaf weed killer should be done now before the weeds get too large. “Spot spray what you’re seeing,” said Carter. Spot spraying rather than broadcasting means you use less weed killer, save money, help the environment, and lessen your exposure to herbicides.
And, if you haven’t already put down a crabgrass preventer, Carter said you can still benefit from applying it. Choose a product that doesn’t contain fertilizer.
“Cool season grasses should be fertilized in the fall,” said Carter. “In spring, fertilizer makes grass put on more top growth – which you don’t need. You’re already mowing in spring, and fall fertilizing promotes root growth.”
Henrico Extension offers the SMART Lawns program to help homeowners have beautiful lawns. Master Gardeners collect lawn soil samples and measure total lawn area, and after processing, homeowners can get customized advice. To learn more, call 501-5160 or search SMART Lawns on Henrico County’s website at http://www.co.henrico.va.us.
Citizen Staff Reports 12/16/2013
Virginia Blood Services (VBS), the sole supplier of blood for more than 20 hospitals throughout the state of Virginia, is in need of blood donors to help replenish the local blood supply over the holidays.
A decline in blood donations is typical during the winter months as people become busy with holiday activities and travel. Patient needs remain steady, however, making it important for people to visit a VBS donor site or mobile drive to give blood. > Read more.
In Varina, one of the most anticipated events of the season is approaching. The 19th Annual Big Toy Parade will return on Dec 14, offering a “homey,” small-town feel that helps elicit holiday spirit among participants and spectators alike.
The parade, which begins at 3 p.m., is sponsored by the Battlefield Ruritans and Henrico County Parks and Recreation and is held in conjunction with the James River Boat Parade. It is led by a grand marshal along Old Osborne Turnpike and ends at the Osborne Boat Landing, where hundreds of community members gather to await nightfall and the arrival of lighted boats, concluding a festive holiday celebration. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 12/03/2013
The region's two premier youth soccer organizations – the Richmond Kickers and Richmond Strikers – have partnered to create Richmond United, a cost-free U.S. Soccer Development Academy program designed to serve the most talented players in the region. The arrangement marks the first time in U.S. Soccer Development Academy history that two member clubs have united their respective Academy programs.
Slated to begin play in the fall of 2014, Richmond United will field U13/14, U15/16 and U17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams. The teams will train and play home games at two of the top soccer specific complexes in the nation, Ukrop Park and Striker Park. > Read more.
A number of Henrico students are performing in the Richmond Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, which runs through Dec. 23. Pictured above, left to right are: back row – Elizabeth Sjovald (Mother Ginger), Deema Meguid, Maya Link (Mogi top) and Sophie Rounds (Mother Ginger) and front row – Sarah Echols (Chinese) and Carter Echols (Chinese). > Read more.
Eastern Henrico’s annual “Holiday on Parade” event is back tomorrow. Family-friendly activities will take place at various locations in the east end. The festivities will culminate with the 21st annual James River Parade of Lights. Also, several churches throughout the county are hosting holiday celebrations including West End Assembly of God, St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church and The Gayton Kirk Presbyterian Church. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Estilo charms, with a stylish twist, in Henrico’s Near West End
If you're looking for something a little different from the standard, ho-hum restaurant experience, look no further than The Village shopping center. Among the recent success stories to put down roots in The Village is Estilo, created by the owners of the gastropub Toast (featured in a Feb. 21 review in the Citizen), only a few steps away.
Estilo – which translates to style – offers a taste of Peru, Chile and Bolivia, among other countries, and a menu that rotates regularly through the rest of Central and South America. > Read more.
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